Category News

Large-scale ocean sanctuaries could protect coral reefs from climate change

Earth’s oceans are home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, but warming temperatures are causing many marine animals, including coral, to die out. A new study into managing the effect climate change has on these organisms says that more international collaboration is needed to ensure the future of the more than 6,000 coral species.

“Coral reefs are an essential ecosystem on our planet,” said Andrea Grottoli, co-author of the study and a professor in earth sciences at the Ohio State University. “Coral reefs are really important for humans in that they provide protection to coastlines from erosion and storms, and they’re essential for certain services like tourism and other parts of the economy.”

The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, advocates fo...

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91% of reefs surveyed on Great Barrier Reef affected by coral bleaching in 2022

Coral bleaching occurs when water is too warm, causing corals to expel the algae living in their tissues and turn completely white -- often killing the cora

Coral bleaching affected 91% of reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year, according to a report by government scientists that confirms the natural landmark has suffered its sixth mass bleaching event on record. The Reef snapshot: summer 2021-22, quietly published by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Tuesday night after weeks of delay, said above-average water temperatures in late summer had caused coral bleaching throughout the 2,300km reef system, but particularly in the central region between Cape Tribulation and the Whitsundays.

“The surveys confirm a mass bleaching event, with coral bleaching observed at multiple reefs in all regions,” a statement accompanying the report said...

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‘Fifty-fifty chance’ of breaching 1.5C warming limit

The likelihood of crossing a key global warming threshold has risen significantly, according to a new analysis. UK Met Office researchers say that there’s now around a fifty-fifty chance that the world will warm by more than 1.5C over the next five years. Such a rise would be temporary, but researchers are concerned about the overall direction of temperatures. 

It’s almost certain that 2022-2026 will see a record warmest year, they say.

The Met Office is the UK’s national meteorological service.

As levels of warming gases in the atmosphere have accrued rapidly over the past three decades, global temperatures have responded by rising in step. 

In 2015, the world’s average temperature first went 1C above the pre-industrial levels, which are generally thought of as the temperat...

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Huge volume of water detected under Antarctic ice

Vast quantities of water have been detected in sediments that underlie a part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The volume is equivalent to a reservoir that is several hundred metres deep. The water was detected below the Whillans Ice Stream, but its presence is likely replicated elsewhere across the White Continent. That being the case, it could be an important influence on how Antarctica reacts to a warmer world, researchers tell the journal Science this week.

Water at the base of glaciers and ice streams generally works to lubricate their movement. 

The transfer of water into or out of this deep reservoir has the potential therefore to either slow down or speed up ice flow.

Models that simulate future climate impacts will now have to account for it.

The detection was made...

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Seagrass project switch after low yield

A project to reintroduce seagrass in Plymouth Sound has seen only 6% of seeds germinated. The National Marine Aquarium said it was now switching to seedlings already growing on matting to increase yields. Seagrass is seen as a way of fighting climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Thousands of seed bags were dropped onto the sea floor in 2021 in a £2.5m project to grow eight hectares (80,000 sq m) of meadow in Devon and Hampshire.

But the seeds became lost or buried by tides, said Mark Parry from the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.

“The idea is that we germinate the seeds in a closed environment where we can tightly control those conditions,” he said.

“We get a higher germination rate, we allow them to develop their roots and the rhizomes to spr...

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One Island Nation’s Plan To Take Climate Justice Into Its Own Hands

Palau’s waters contain some of the world’s richest marine biodiversity. Critically endangered hawksbill turtles and endangered Napoleon wrasse, which can grow up to six feet long and are known for the distinctive bulge on their foreheads, cruise through reefs home to hundreds of species of coral.

The country, an archipelago of over 300 pristine tropical islands popping up out of the Pacific, has tried hard to protect its natural gifts. In 2009, it forbade the commercial fishing of sharks, creating the world’s first national shark sanctuary. Species like dugongs and bumphead parrotfish are protected...

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A new app aims to help save critically endangered sea turtles

With its durability and transfixing swirl of translucent amber and brown layers, tortoiseshell has been used for centuries to make everything from jewelry to combs to dishware.

“It was plastic before plastic was invented because it’s so malleable,” says Brad Nahill, co-founder and president of turtle conservation group SEE Turtles and a National Geographic Explorer.

Tortoiseshell does not come from tortoises. It almost exclusively comes from the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. Between 1884 and 1992, data show, at least nine million hawksbills were killed and sold for their shells. Today, fewer than 25,000 breeding females remain globally, and its international commercial trade is banned.

Nahill’s group is leading an effort to use modern technology to combat the illi...

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Climate resilient microalgae could help restore coral reefs

Coral species exhibit different temperature tolerances. This is in part due to the composition of their microalgae symbionts. With a new method, researchers from Uppsala University were able to predict how individual microalgae might behave under future temperature stress and identify more tolerant coral symbionts. In combination with forthcoming single cell selection and growth experiments, the identification of climate resilient cells provides opportunity to help mitigate the effects of coral bleaching.

Coral reefs provide sustenance and income to an estimated half billion people, attract tourists, protect coastlines and are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet. Despite their importance, more than half of the world’s coral reefs are now under stress, primarily due to cl...

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Highly contagious marine epidemic rips through Caribbean’s coral reefs

Krista Sherman understands ocean conservation work takes a good deal of patience. But the Bahamian-born marine scientist had never encountered a foe like stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), and after efforts to monitor and treat the highly contagious outbreak in the Bahamas’ corals stalled, her patience was running thin.

“The disease is spreading really quickly. In some areas where we’ve been able to assess the rate of spread, we’re looking at a mile a month,” says Sherman, a researcher with the Bahamas-based Perry Institute for Marine Science.

“There’s a shift taking place at some sites, from healthy, vibrant reefs to what looks like a coral graveyard. And it’s really devastating to see; it’s just heartbreaking.”

First discovered in Florida in 2014, the ...

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How high-profile scientists felt tricked by group denying climate change

A dozen scientists, politicians, and campaigners say they have been tricked into participating in online events promoting climate-change denial. The events were organised by the Creative Society, an international activist group that denies global warming is being caused by human activity. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree greenhouse gases – which trap the Sun’s heat – are causing a rise in global temperatures.

But the Creative Society alleges, without any credible evidence, a conspiracy and condemns what it calls the “CO2 fraud”.

The group told BBC News it “provides a platform for all ideas to be expressed” and rejected allegations it tricked anyone into participating in its events.

From ‘cosmic pulses’ to ‘corrupted scientists’

The Creative Society says it has su...

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